Montana License Plates

Growing up in Montana, my friends and I often played the ‘license plate game;’ a nonsense game in which each time you stop behind an out-of-state vehicle with a particular state slogan (for instance, Idaho plates generally say “famous potatoes” because why not) and if you can correctly yell out the state slogan before anyone else has the chance, you get to punch the other person in the arm—like ‘slug bug,’ but ever so slightly more entertaining.

Likewise, I often figured that my home state offered a similar level of entertainment given the abundance of specialty plates Montana makes available to its residents.  For every standard plate, there are five more specialty plates. Which means that out-of-staters touring any part of our great state probably never even have the opportunity to figure out what plate is standard and what plate is specialty, because in a state where specialty is normal, there is no standard.

Which leads me to my main point: Montana is proud of itself. Weirdly proud of itself. So much so, that our state puts as many aspects of its unique personality on our license plates as it can. When you visit the License Plates Designs and Fees page of Montana’s state DOJ, it offers fourteen different genres of license plates to choose from. Not kidding. Fourteen genres. You could choose ‘Museums & History’ or ‘Government & Communities.’ Or, if you’re more outdoorsy, you might have to choose between the ‘Parks & Environment’ or the ‘Wildlife & Other Animals’ categories. And within these options, are many different plates. With something like 250 different plate options and the ability to personalize your plates (for basically nothing, I might add ) Montana offers many choices. But don’t fool yourself into thinking we’re just trying to entertain ourselves up here under four feet of snow.

Montana plates also have the ability to raise money for their organizations. For instance, only last quarter (April – June 2016) the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation raised over $46,000 from its plate. Even things as obscure as the Eureka Montana Quilt Show raised almost $2,000 solely from its specialty plate. And for the good they do, they even manage to save some people equivalent amounts of money.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation              Eureka Quilters License Plate

For those who’ve read our blog, you’ll know that having a Montana license plate also means that you’ve benefitted from Montana’s Sales Tax Free Vehicle Registration. A Montana vehicle registration not only means that you have a cool license plate, but also that you’ve paid a vehicle registration fee based solely off the MMSRP and year of your vehicle, plus some handling fees because this is America. But unlike most states, which can charge sales tax as high 10%, Montana gives its residents a break when it comes to consuming. This means whether you prefer Jeeps or Ferarris, you can say ‘goodbye’ to the thousands of dollars in sales tax required to register vehicles in most other states.

Leading me to my next point. If you’ve read our blog thoroughly, you’ll also know that many out-of-staters have come to benefit from Montana’s “Wild West” mindset.  In the last few years, many savvy RV’ers, luxury car owners and classic car enthusiasts have quickly followed suit by registering their luxury vehicles, travel trailers, and other recreational vehicles through a Montana LLC. If you aren’t caught up, check out our blog for a step-by-step guide through the process and then give our office a call or contact us via the web for details. Our staff has over 40 years of combined experience and professional attorneys that lead our team. Meaning that you’ll not only be hand-held through the process, but also that we’ll always have your best interests in mind. Frankly, the hardest part is coming up with a name for your new Montana LLC. And then all that’s left is to enjoy.

Avoid Paying Unnecessary Taxes on Vehicles and Motorhomes | Montana LLC

Taxes have never been a fun topic, which is probably why they are so often a topic of conversation. At Heggen Law Office, taxes are similarly on our mind, for better or worse, especially when it comes to finding ways to save our clients from paying unnecessary taxes on their pricey vehicles and motorhomes with a Montana LLC.

The oft-quoted Judge Billings Learned Hand once observed that “Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes” (Helvering v. Gregory, 69 F.2d 809, 810 (2d Cir. 1934). In other words, while staying loyal to the state is a duty each citizen is bound to, paying extraneous taxes is not.

A similar sentiment inspired Jared Heggen at a young age to investigate the benefits of Montana’s tax free vehicle registration. Coupled with the knowledge he’d gained from law school and his experiences as a young business owner, Jared and another partner—who is still practicing in the area—founded the first registered agent firm specialized to help out-of-staters benefit from Montana’s lenient vehicle registration statutes.

Knowing that many out-of-staters paid outrageous prices to register their collected classics and luxury vehicles, Jared S. Heggen now offered an alternative: low vehicle registration costs, protection of your various assets, and maximum confidentiality for each client through a registered Montana Limited Liability Company (LLC). By establishing a Montana LLC for their new clients and transferring their client’s vehicles into the LLC, Heggen Law Office created a way to easily and legally benefit from the state’s low fees and lack of vehicle inspections. [You can read more about this process on our step-by-step blog.]

But we all know: if you build it, people will come—and soon they did. It was not only out-of-staters flocking to take advantage of the idea, but also the local registered agents who quickly realized a new business opportunity. While registered agents had always offered their commercial or home address for business purposes such as accounting, the idea of forming an LLC for vehicle registration had not historically been an aspect of the agent business. Before too long, many agents began offering to register out-of-state vehicles through a Montana LLC, growing the industry into what it is today.

But while many of these offices can easily set up an LLC or get a vehicle registered at the DMV, many still fail to properly protect their client’s confidentiality or rely on added-on fees for their own profit. On the other hand, at Heggen Law Office we’ve had many years of first-hand experience in registering vehicles reliably and with the utmost standard of care and confidentiality.

Our staff is always there with years of experience to guide and support our clients. While we always recommend that you have legal representation in your home state, knowing that the team at Heggen Law Office is watching out for your best interest makes it easier for our clients to enjoy their recreational and luxury vehicles—with the added affordability of Montana’s Tax Free Vehicle Registration.

Best RV Parks in the Northwest

Jim and Mary’s RV Resort – Missoula, MT

Conveniently located off of I-90 and close to Missoula’s charming downtown, Jim and Mary’s RV Resort has built a name for itself for providing professional, well-managed services and a beautifully landscaped environment. Park reviews boast ornately landscaped flower gardens, ample space for big rigs, and reliable hook-ups. This is a great place to stop on your way to Glacier or if you’re traveling through the state on I-90.

Spring Creek Campground and Trout Ranch – Big Timber, MT

If you’re looking to explore the true beauty of Montana, Spring Creek Campground is the perfect choice. Locating north of Yellowstone, Spring Creek Campground offers all the standard RV park amenities, like WI-FI and 50-amp service, despite its rustic nature. What’s more, Spring Creek offers an impressive trout ranch, making it possible to catch your own dinner for $.50 an inch. Or visit the nearby Hunter’s Hot Springs to learn more about Montana’s frontier history

Polson Motorcoach and RV Resort – Polson, MT

Unlike most RV parks, even the ones on this list, Polson Motorcoach and RV Resort is truly luxurious. This Class A motorcoach resort is located just south of Glacier National Park, and overlooks the stunning Flathead Lake and Mission Mountain Range. While most of lots are now privately owned, many can still be rented out to travelers passing through. And most sites even offer full outdoor kitchen areas, complete with granite countertops, cushy outdoor seating, and large fire pits for entertaining. If you’re looking for a truly luxurious RV experience, this resort should be at the top of your list.

Ambassador RV Park – Caldwell, ID

Located close to Boise as well as several nearby wineries, Ambassador RV Park offers all the usual amenities of other top-of-the-line parks, as well as a remarkably relaxing and family-friendly atmosphere.   Close to travel plazas and major shopping centers, Ambassador RV Park is especially convenient for those traveling along I-84.

Blackwell Island RV Park – Coeur d’Alene, ID

If you’re spending time on Lake Coeur d’Alene or the Spokane River, Blackwell Island RV Park is a great option, especially for those traveling in larger vehicles. While Blackwell Island boast less luxury than some other options on this list, it’s convenient location, close to the Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, and Post Falls areas, as well as its spacious lot sizes and friendliness towards big rigs make it worth noting. The park’s proximity to Lake Coeur d’Alene make it an especially perfect option for travelers interested in watersports.

Alderwood RV Resort – Spokane, WA

Similar to Blackwell Island, Alderwood RV Resort is mainly on this list due more to pragmatics than luxury. Thanks to its proximity to I-90 and well-landscaped environment, Alderwood RV Resort is a great option for those traveling through the Spokane area, but its smaller lots can make it difficult for big rigs to find proper spacing. If you can find spacing, you’ll enjoy a beautifully landscaped park, full of trees and areas to walk your dog.

Columbia Sun RV Park – Kennewick, WA

Only one mile off I-82, you’ll find the Columbia Sun RV Park, a beautiful park despite its modest surroundings. Located conveniently close to major shopping centers like Walmart and Costco, the Columbia Sun RV Park is also nearby some of Washington’s best wine-tasting. As a relatively new park, the Columbia Sun offers updated amenities and luxurious services like work-out facilities and kid-friendly play-grounds.

Hoquiam River RV Park – Olympic Peninsula, WA

Another newer park, the Hoquiam River RV Park is a great option for those traveling through the Washington coastal area—particularly for those driving big rigs. While there are not as many nearby shopping areas, this park does offer easy access to Highway 10 and well-managed services. Though not as luxurious as other resorts, the Hoquiam River offers beautiful river views, easy trail access, and a great base-camp for exploring Washington’s beautiful coast.

Seven Feathers RV Resort – Canyonville, OR

Located just off 1-5 south of Roseburg, Oregon and 2 hours east of Crater Lake National Park, the Seven Feathers RV Resort boasts all the amenities of a luxury RV resort, including an indoor pool, workout center, playground, and group fire pits. If you’re looking for something truly unique, visit the nearby Wildlife Safari to see everything from Roosevelt Elk to newborn cheetahs.

Crown Villa RV Resort – Bend, OR

With large spaces designed to comfortably fit any big rig and a tediously manicured grounds, the Crown Villa RV Resort in Bend is the perfect destination for those traveling through the state. With a thriving local community, Bend offers a number of things to both see and do as well as the convenience of city shopping centers and box-stores. Hike nearby trails, enjoy a local microbrew, or simply relax among the mature pine trees that fill the resort.

 

 

Exploring Montana in an RV

With over 50 state parks, 2 crown jewels of the National Parks System, and nearly 150,000 square miles to explore, it’s no wonder that Montana has become a popular destination for travelers. With Montana’s convenient tax free vehicle registration and overall friendliness to RV and travel trailer owners, it’s also no surprise that RV’ers are leading the movement to “the last best place.” But with so many great destinations also come an abundance of choices for your journey, making it difficult to decide what to see and what to skip while you RV Montana, especially for those less familiar with the state. Thankfully, the trusted advisors at Heggen Law Office have just as much—if not more—advice for exploring our great state as they do for protecting your assets. Here’s some of our best advice for your next visit to the state we’re proud to call “home.”

  1. Set aside enough time. Whether you plan to explore the whole state or just a region, Montana requires some precious time. As the fourth largest of all 50 states, even driving from one major town to the next often requires a two-hundred or so mile road trip. If you are hoping to visit both National Parks, you’ll not only want to dedicate a generous amount of time to both, but also to all of the local attractions and beautiful scenery in between. Spend a weekend at Flathead Lake, America’s largest mountain lake, or hike to Crystal Lake, lined with wild huckleberries and filled with trout, in the Seeley/Swan area. Both can easily be accessed after leaving Glacier—depending on which routes you take—and any local will tell you that the chance to spend a few days relaxing in either of these areas is well worth your time.
  2. Take advantage of the privately owned RV parks. By camping outside of the parks and exploring them during the day, you’ll not only optimize the time you spend seeing different things but will also have a lot more freedom during your trip. While camping inside the parks can be a great experience, especially if you’re less concerned with amenities, they require a good amount of fore-planning for reservations, likewise requiring you to keep a more rigid itinerary while traveling. What’s more, though you can find proper spacing for big rigs, most park campgrounds are designed with smaller travel vehicles in mind.
  3. Know when to plan ahead. For instance, if you are determined to stay in a National Park, you’ll want to make sure that all of your reservations are in order. Even then, be prepared to squeeze for space and be friendly with neighbors, especially if you’re visiting in the busy months. It’s also a good idea to plan ahead for gas stations, especially if your rig requires diesel, as it is always possible to find yourself in the middle of the state with no signs of life, let alone gas, on the horizon.
  4. Know when to forget your plans. While there’s no denying that proper preparation prevents a poor performance, giving your itinerary control over your journey is hardly the best way to experience Montana’s unique beauty. Instead, give yourself the freedom to enjoy the unexpected. Thankfully, regardless of what adventures have disrupted your well-thought out travel plans, Montana is chock-full of beautiful RV sites and campgrounds, so you can trust that even if you missed your reservation, you’ll always have some place to park your home.
  5. Get on the river. Montana is home to a number of beautiful lakes but connecting these bodies of water are the rivers that make Montana the true beauty it is. Whether you’re in the Missoula area, enjoying the Clark Fork, the Blackfoot, or the Bitterroot; near Billings, rafting the Yellowstone; in Great Falls, fishing the Missouri; or any number of the beautiful rivers in between, you’re sure to have an exciting and rewarding experience. Professional guide services can outfit you with any equipment you might need, in addition to a wealth of local knowledge to ensure your experience is both safe and fun.
  6. See a ghost town. While it’s difficult to tally the true number of ghost towns that dot the treasure-state, Montana contains as many as 60 notable ghost towns. Particularly noteworthy, are Garnet and Bannack, which easily allow travelers to step back in time to the first days of the gold rush. Exploring this frontier environment not only gives travelers a good sense of the dedication required to establish the West, but also of the simplistic beauty that continues to capture our collective imagination.
  7. Honor Montana’s history. See the Jesuit missions, St. Ignatius and St. Marys, or go even further in time, to the history that reigned before missionaries or trappers ever set foot in the Rocky Mountains. Visitors can experience the First People Buffalo Jump, near Great Falls, visit the Crow Agency to learn about the Battle of Little Bighorn, or visit the People’s Center of Pablo, South of Flathead, to learn more about the Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai tribes. Go even further in time at Bozeman’s Museum of the Rockies, to see the largest collection of excavated rex in the world. Or fast-forward to one of the last legs of Lewis and Clark’s trail before arriving at the Pacific Ocean.
  8. Eat an elk burger. Or try some Rocky Mountain Oysters! But honestly, both are readily available depending on which time of year you visit the state. While Montana’s Testy Fest is full of annual, NSFW fun at the beginning of August, many burger stands operate throughout the season and are much more family friendly than the notorious Testy Fest. Stop at the burger shack in Moiese while visiting the National Bison Range or, if you’re on the other side of the state, West Yellowstone boasts a number of bison and elk burger joints. If you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, stop by Historical Phillipsburg’s Sweet Palace along the Pintler Scenic Bi-way for some pulled taffy or any other number of traditional penny candies.
  9. Hit up a hot spring. Dotted throughout the state are a number of natural hot springs—some developed into resorts, other’s requiring short hikes to reach the pools. Perhaps best known of all is Mammoth Hotsprings, located in the Northwestern section of Yellowstone National Park, just across the state border into Wyoming.   Or if you’re looking for a more adventurous experience, swim down the Boiling River located nearby. In addition to Yellowstone, you can easily find both undeveloped as well as commercial hot springs throughout the state. For instance, several undeveloped hot springs can be found near the Butte area in addition to the family-friendly Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.
  10. Pretend you’re a local. On your journey through the state, you’re bound to drive through a number of towns, of varying sizes and cultures, but one thing many of them have in common is a thriving local community. Visit the local farmer’s markets or any number of outdoor festivals whether you’re in Whitefish or Billings, Big Arm or Choteau. Enjoy a drink from any of the craft-breweries and distilleries that line the state. Or hike any number of local trails, easily accessible and close to most city-centers. Whatever your interests, the local communities have many great options.

With so much to explore, it’s no wonder that many RV’ers and travelers are drawn to the state. And while it’s up to each one to make the most out of their journey, we hope this list gives you a clearer idea of all the best Montana has to offer.  Enjoy exploring Montana in your RV!

Roam, Sweet Roam: Establishing Legal Residency as a Full-timer

At Heggen Law Office, clients often come to us looking for information about the transition to a full-time RV lifestyle. In many instances, they are curious about where to establish legal residency now that they’ve committed to life on the road. More often than not, our trusted associates recommend three states—Florida, Texas, and South Dakota—as particularly great options for full-timers, but we also like to remind our clients to keep Montana in mind as they make their transition. While Florida, Texas, and South Dakota are easily the best choices for declaring legal residency, they are not always as optimal for registering and licensing the vehicles that make your lifestyle possible. On the other hand, by declaring legal residency in one of these states while registering your luxury and recreational vehicles in Montana through a Montana LLC, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too.

Unfortunately, the US legal system has not quite caught up with the nomadic lifestyle and still operates on the default that its citizens are stationary, making the transition to full-time RV’ing a bit complicated. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the freedom of your RV while still fulfilling your legal obligations for residency. Rather, if you plan wisely, you’ll be able to enjoy both the freedom of the road and the freedom of a full wallet.

When transitioning to a full-time nomadic lifestyle, one of the most important steps each full-timer must take is choosing where to establish legal domicile. While ‘residency’ can be defined more casually by legal terms, a citizen’s legal ‘domicile’ is a specific combination of both residency as well as an intent to remain a resident. In other words, domicile is not merely proof of your place of residence, but also all of the various life chores (mail, voting, insurance, vehicle registration, taxes, etc.) that prove your established connection to that residence, i.e. your intent to remain. And while it is advisable to align as many of these details as possible in order to stay within the parameters of our stationary system, your full-time status also gives you a unique opportunity to re-organize your life for maximum return.

It’s no secret that in the last few years, Florida, Texas, and South Dakota have all made big names for themselves within the full-timing community. This is largely due to their lack of state income tax and general friendliness to the vagabond lifestyle. For instance, each state offers reliable mail forwarding services designed for full-timers seeking a legal state address. Florida has welcomed its fair share of not only retirees, but also full-timers thanks to its warm climate as well as a number of choices for health insurance. In Texas, voting can easily be completed by mail. On the other hand, South Dakota has kept its sales taxes reasonably low and its policies particularly nomad-friendly.

In effect, each of these three states is convenient for proving both your residency as well as your intent to remain, making all of them desirable options for full-timers, but less convenient when it comes to purchasing and registering your full-time vehicles. While each of these states is a great choice for a full-timer’s legal domicile, they also enforce pricey sales taxes, registration fees, and tedious vehicle inspections; fees that often add up to a large chunk of a full-timer’s built-in expenses.

Thankfully, there’s an easy alternative.

Unlike Florida, Texas, and South Dakota, whose sales taxes range from 8% (TX) to 4% (SD), Montana is one of the few remaining sales tax free states. A Montana vehicle registration not only allows you to avoid sales tax on the pricey vehicles that make your lifestyle possible, but also those pesky annual inspections and high licensing fees required by other states. Thanks to Montana’s unusually confidential LLC policies and notoriously quirky vehicle registration process, the state is especially friendly to both full-timers and those simply looking to protect their assets.

Over the years, nonresidents have easily benefitted from Montana’s laws by filing and transferring their vehicle to an established Montana LLC, thereby transferring their vehicles’ ownership (and risk) to that LLC (you can read more about the benefits of a Montana LLC here). After establishing an LLC, full-timers can register as many of their vehicles to the state of Montana as they choose, avoiding Florida, Texas, and South Dakota’s more exhaustive and expensive requirements. In doing so, full-timers can not only enjoy the benefit of un-taxed income by their new home-state, but also a secure and tax free Montana vehicle registration. Check out our blog and FAQ’s page for more information about Montana’s tax free vehicle registration.

When choosing to RV full-time, having your odds and ends organized cohesively according to your legal domicile can make annoyances such as insurance or legal trouble much easier to work out. So if you do plan to benefit from a sales tax free Montana vehicle registration as a Florida resident, call our office to ensure that the process is done legally and securely by a professional attorney. With our help, there’s no reason to not enjoy the time and cost saving benefits of a Montana vehicle registration even as a resident of an income tax free state.

As a full-timer, you have many options, not only of where you’ll live for the foreseeable future, but also of where you’ll establish yourself now that you’re on the road. Call our office today for a free consultation with our trusted advisors if you think that a Montana vehicle registration is a good option for you.

What does a Montana LLC do for you?

What does a Montana LLC do for you?  Two words: asset protection.

While protecting your assets in the “Wild West” may seem counter-intuitive, Montana is a gold mine for securing not only valuable personal property, but also yourself. In a previous post we outlined the step-by-step process for registering your vehicles, boats, or aircraft through a Montana LLC in order to avoid your home state’s high sales tax and licensing fees. As mentioned, the financial benefits of a tax-free Montana vehicle registration are substantial in themselves—but they are hardly the only benefits.

In the age of online social sharing and being constantly ‘linked in,’ establishing a Montana LLC through Heggen law Office is the perfect solution for maintaining the privacy of your personal information. While the process does require a few names and addresses, this information is securely handled and used only by our office for the purpose of processing your paperwork. Once this is complete, your personal information is filed away and you can begin transferring or registering all chosen assets to your new Montana LLC. With your Montana entity acting as the technical owner to your luxury vehicles, you’re in a position to have your cake and eat it too, with your names and personal information fully protected.

Say, for example, you unintentionally cut off that Subaru WRX riding everyone’s bumper down the interstate. Though most titled vehicles are simply public record and therefore easily searchable, the angry boy taking your license plate behind you will only get as far as your Montana corporation. While this boy may be able to track your license plate to your LLC, he will find it very difficult to come up with any actual names or personal information.

This is because after filing a Montana LLC, the Secretary of State only releases a few key pieces of information: your registered agent and office address, your primary business address, and the name of your LLC. At Heggen Law Office, we ensure an extra layer of protection by using our own commercial business address as your LLC’s primary address and filing ourselves as the LLC manager in your entity’s articles of organization. This way, all personal information such as names or addresses remains fully confidential. In order to actually get a hold of your personal information, said boy would have to go as far as subpoenaing our office. By this point, said boy has most likely moved on to annoy another traveler.

Beyond protecting your name and checkbook, a Montana LLC can also be useful when navigating the world of credit. For instance, when applying for phones, homes, credit, or other loans, you often authorize an asset search in addition to a simple credit check. By filing your Montana LLC as the owner of your assets, you may be able to avoid unforeseen consequences of these asset searches by not owning your luxury vehicles, boats, or aircraft out-rightly. Instead, your Montana LLC assumes the risk while maintaining your confidentiality.

If you have any interest in asset protection and privacy through a Montana LLC, call our office to speak with our knowledgeable staff. Together, we have over 40 years of experience with Montana LLC law and tax free Montana vehicle registration. Explore our blog and FAQ’s page to learn more about the cost-saving benefits of a Montana LLC.

 

Registered Agent vs. Professional Attorney: What’s the difference?

A quick internet search of ‘tax free MT vehicle registration’ will return hundreds of thousands of results, providing you with plenty of Montana registered agents to choose from if you’re in the market for a Montana vehicle registration. With so many options, a large part this decision comes down to choosing to do business with either a registered agent or a professional attorney. While both can do the job, professional attorneys will often be your best option—both legally and financially. To put it frankly, not all ‘registered agents’ are created equal.

Technically, anyone with a registered Montana address can act as your registered agent. This means that anyone with a laptop and a Montana home address has the ability to act as the designated business address for any legal documents intended for your Montana entity. While this detail doesn’t necessarily equate all registered agents with high risk, it certainly sheds light on the benefits of having both a commercial business address and professional attorney receiving your LLC’s service of process.

In addition to a legal cushion, a professional attorney will also often provide an extra layer of confidentiality. For most, whether filing important documents such as vehicle registration or simply online shopping, the assurance that your information is secure and confidential is a high priority. At Heggen Law Office, protecting your information is of equal concern. We know that now, more than ever, the internet can be as much risk as it is reward. Knowing this, we work hard to ensure that you and your personal information are always protected.

With over 40 years of combined experience, our office has built a reputation for handling client’s information with care and confidentiality. For each client, we file a professionally written operating agreement and do our best to provide them with personalized service and information according to their home state. What’s more, unlike many fast-acting ‘agent’ website claims, you can trust that you will never be overcharged or subscribed to for payments beyond the standard fees listed on our Vehicle Registration information page.

If you’re interested in learning more about the process, visit our step-by-step guide for a tax-free Montana vehicle registration for more details or contact us today!